Painkillers That Don’t Kill

Cathryn Jakobson Ramin in Nautilus:

Travis Gustavson died in February, 2021 in Mankato, Minnesota at the age of 21. The morning of the day he died, he had a tooth pulled at the dentist’s office. Due to a drug history, the doctors didn’t prescribe him strong painkillers, so he was planning to white knuckle it through the day with ibuprofen, according to his mother. Instead, he called a guy who sold him illegal street heroin and fentanyl. In a text to the dealer, Gustavson sent a photo of the amount he planned to take and asked if he had gotten the dose right. “Smaller bro” and “be careful plz!” the dealer wrote back. Gustavson overdosed.

Gustavson, whose death was reported in the L.A. Times,1 is one of the many casualties of an opioid crisis that has ravaged the United States for over two decades. Opioid overdose deaths have claimed more than 600,000 lives in the U.S. and Canada since 1999, more than were lost in World War I and II combined. In both countries, 2020 was the worst year on record, in terms of total deaths and percentage increase from the previous year, precipitated in part by the anxiety, stress, and isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More here.